Frog juice is a number of things; it appears to be a card game as well as a brand of paint, but most importantly it is exactly what you think it is, namely a liquidised frog. But not any old frog you understand, it has to be a particular frog. Specifically the Titicaca frog from Lake Titicaca, which lies some 12,500 feet above sea level high up in the Andes mountains straddling the Peru-Bolivia border.
Now the Titicaca frog is a strange looking beast. For one thing it is a big frog, around twelve inches long with a colouring that varies from olive-green to black, with or without white marbling. It was discovered in 1876 by S.W. Garman who gave it the scientific name of Telmatobius culeus, which is Latin for 'aquatic scrotum'. This appears to be a fair and accurate description of the frog, as the Titicaca frog is distinguished by its baggy-skinned appearance which is believed to be an evolutionary adaptation to the oxygen-depleted air of the high Andes.
The Titicaca frog has many uses; the native Indians used them as rainmakers during times of drought and also in traditional medicine to treat a number of ailments including tuberculosis, fever, anemia and female infertility. They are also edible and Titicaca frog legs are apparently a popular on tourist menus around the lake. Most importantly it is believed that the Titicaca frog has aphrodisiac properties and is therefore also known as Peruvian viagra. And apparently the local prefer to take their Peruvian viagra in a liquid form.
I was alerted to this practice by an item in Private Eye which reproduces a story from The Age, an Australian paper. According to this account, public health officials in Lima were carrying out a routine hygiene inspection at a local abattoir when they were surprised to find live frogs jumping out of one of the fridges. Further investigation revealed a number of crates containing a total of 5,000 frogs, of which a 1,000 were dead. The officials were in no doubt that they had stumbled across a wholesale delivery of frogs enroute to the local juicing shops. A trade which is incidentally illegal as the Titicaca frog is an endangered species.
Ordinarily one would be somewhat sceptical of such reports but it appears that The Age was simply reproducing a Reuters news item (The Cocktalian Gazette also lists the story) and there is also confirmation from both the National Wildlife Magazine as well as the Living Underworld Species Database that Titicaca frogs are indeed 'juiced' for their aphrodisiac properties. One source also includes a picture captioned "Customers at a frog juice booth drinking blended concoction including giant Titicaca Frog".
It therefore appears to be true that the Peruvians have gone one better than the French and not only eat frogs but drink them as well. Should you be interested in joining your South American cousins in this novel beverage, the recipe for frog juice is quite simple; take one live Titicaca frog, add water, honey and maca (a local root vegetable), place in a household blender and liquidise. Drink immediately.
- Private Eye No 1137
- In the Land of Giant Frogs By Pete Oxford
National Wildlife Magazine Oct/Nov 2003, vol. 41 no. 6
- Telmatobius culeus (Garman, 1875) Lake Titicaca Frog
Miller, Jessica J. (2004). Living Underworld Species Database
- The Cocktalian Gazette Vol 2. Issue 4. May 2005
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